Sarah Laughed (Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7)

Stories always have many viewpoints.  In Genesis, the ancient and elderly Abraham is sitting by a tree and three men appear.  Abraham, recognizing them as divine emissaries, invites them to a meal and orders Sarah (his ancient and elderly wife) to make them food.  After she has served them, she sits, out of sight, and listens.  The four men set about to discuss Sarah’s future pregnancy.  Sarah laughs…out loud.  Wouldn’t you?  What a ridiculous idea it was that an old lady should get pregnant.  Of course, if Abraham is going to be the father of a great nation somebody has to get pregnant, and in this ancient tale of wandering tribes and tent societies Sarah is the only choice for matriarch.  But still she is scolded for her laugh.  Perhaps there is ancient embedded wisdom in the Erma Bombeck quote, “If you can laugh at it, you can live with it.”

As old as the old tales are, there isn’t much about human beings that hasn’t been told. Many a sitcom has begun with a spouse bringing unexpected company home for dinner. The saga of Abraham and Sarah is a story that walks between worlds of social class, power and gender.  In these motifs we can read a lot that resonates with our contemporary world.

Glennon Doyle Melton is a best-selling author who reflects on such contemporary stories. She facilitates an online community called Momastery.  Her quirky take on motherhood, family, politics, religion, and women’s lives has resonated with many around the country, and she will be a featured speaker at General Synod 2017 on Saturday, July 1.  General Synod meets every other year and it is the body that steers the work of the United Church of Christ.  People from all walks of life, from all over the country and the world gather to vote on resolutions, elect officers and create a vortex of denominational energy.  This year we will meet in Baltimore, Maryland, and the theme is “Make Glad.”  Gathered in that one body, the delegates that will make up that Synod each bring their own stories, like Sarah’s, that shine a light on both what unites and divides us.

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This Is Good (Trinity Sunday Genesis 1:1-2: 4a)

How good is the world?  In the opening of Genesis the first thing to appear by God’s command was light, a light shining through fog and chaos.  It says that God saw it was good.  Any artist, a painter, for example, might step back to see her work in progress and see that it is good.  Imagine God is the artist seeing what is good in that harmony between creative action and result, paint and brush, and canvas.  Clearly, in the beginning, according to the storytellers in Genesis, God was creating and stepping back, pleased with what was happening.  Think of that opening chapter of Genesis as full of many “aha” moments and the creative pleasure of God.

Some mystics tell us that what we experience when we feel the beauty of the natural world is a glimpse of the divine, “aha.”  Somewhere in that moment of making art there is a piece of the creator, of the artist, left behind in the work reaching out to us.

If this world we see is good and the touch of the divine is in it, then our responsibility, as people of faith, to every mountain and fresh water stream and bird in the air becomes more than that of a caretaker.  We are witnesses to that divine force in all of it.  How can we keep quiet when we see the goodness of this precious earth polluted by plastic islands in the ocean and coal dust running through our streams?  Creating is a gift from the ONE who saw it as good from the very beginning.  The United Church of Christ knows this and champions God’s good world in its environmental justice ministries.  All of us in local churches are urged to gather in small groups and educate ourselves about climate change.  One way to do this is to watch the film, “This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein.  There are faith based resources and questions to help guide any discussion.  You can find out how to see the film and download resources at http://www.ucc.org/environmental-ministries.

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Well Done, St. John’s UCC, Bluffton!

The United Church of Christ says “Thank You!” to the members of St. John’s UCC for our 2016 contribution of $3,080.00 for Basic Support of Our Church’s Wider Mission:  Changing Lives.

Also, “Thank You!” to the members of St. John’s UCC for being a 5 for 5 Congregation of the United Church of Christ in 2016.  5 for 5 Congregations support Our Church’s Wider Mission Basic Support and the Neighbors in Need, One Great Hour of Sharing, Christmas Fund, and Strengthen the Church Special Mission Offerings of the United Church of Christ.

St. John’s UCC has contributed 87 blankets as part of the special Easter offering.  That totals $870.00 worth of blankets to be distributed world-wide to those in need of shelter and warmth due to natural disasters.

God bless each of you!  Keep up the good work!

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Summer Hours for Sunday School and Worship

Beginning June 4, which is the first Sunday in June, and continuing through September 3, hours for Sunday School and Worship will be at the following times:

Sunday School for Adults–9:00 a.m.

No Children’s Sunday School during the summer

Worship–10:00 a.m.

Please note these times on your calendar so that you will arrive at the beginning of Sunday School and Worship beginning in June.

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Upcoming Special Events at St. John’s UCC

Special speakers for Sunday, June 11 will be Jeremy Basinger and Gwen Sprague who are affiliated with Youth for Christ in Bluffton, Ohio.  Their presentations will highlight Youth for Christ and  its impact on Bluffton youth.

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 18.  Members of the congregation will participate in a specially designed service to give recognition to our Heavenly Father and earthly fathers. Scpriture passages and a hymn sing will highlight the service.

Community Vacation Bible School will be held at English Lutheran Church from July 16 through July 20.  Registration forms will be available soon.  St. John’s UCC is responsible to furnish “herders” this year.  Please check with Marci Stahl if you are available to help.

Other special events will be posted as they are scheduled.

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Second Sunday Potlucks Resume in September

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Second Sunday Potlucks during the September through April church year.  The fellowship and food  uplifted those of us who attended the luncheons.

Since many of us travel and are otherwise taking part in activities during the summer months, the potlucks will be on hiatus until September.

Special events scheduled for St. John’s through late spring and summer are listed in a separate article.

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Student Graduations

If you are a parent or grandparent, you might be anticipating the upcoming graduation of your son, daughter, or grandchild/grandchildren.  St. John’s UCC is interested in publishing a list of students within your families who are graduating this spring.  Please contact the church office to let us know if you have a family member graduating in 2017.

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Food Pantry in Need of Supplies

You will notice that the food pantry shelves empty out quickly, especially after the third Saturday distribution takes place.  Out of our abundance, we need to meet the needs of others.  On a Sunday morning, open your cupboard door and pull out a can, box, jar of something and bring it in and place it on the table at the front of the sanctuary.  (Please check expiration dates before bringing in items.)  Thank you!

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

Tuesday, June 13–Ladies meet at LuLu’s, 9 a.m.; pipe organ tuning in sanctuary, 3 p.m.; TOPS, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, June 14–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.

Thursday, June 15–Community meal at the Senior Center, 6 p.m.

Saturday, June 17–Food Pantry open, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Sunday, June 18–Celebration of Father’s Day and Praise to our Heavenly Father during the 10 a.m. worship service

Reminder:  Volunteer gardeners for the upcoming days are to water and weed the church flower beds

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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday, July 25, please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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